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Aristotle's Concept of Happiness Essay

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In the work, Nicomachean Ethics, the philosopher Aristotle creates a guideline for those who are serious about pursuing happiness. Aristotle's recommendations for finding happiness are not accepted today without some struggle and careful examination. In Aristotle's time, slaves, women and children were not truly considered human; so in many cases the philosopher is directing his words towards free males only. It is necessary to understand that by overlooking this discrimination and applying it to all people, one can discover the timeless wisdom of Aristotle.

To begin, one must learn what happiness means to Aristotle. He considers happiness to be simply the name of the good life. This is not to say that the good life produces
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Only when these two aspects of the soul are engaged can one be closer to achieving happiness. Aristotle refutes elitist thinking by stating that all people have the capacity to reason within the soul. The good and bad characteristics in people come from the kinds of activities that they desire to undertake. Aristotle also generally defines the good life as simply doing what one wants to do, but happiness can only truly be achieved when one desires to do the correct things.

The next topic to consider, then, is what kind of rational activities fulfill the purpose of a human being. Aristotle feels that as a human, one should actualize the capacities of the soul through activity. Here one encounters the debate of activity versus productivity. In current society, productivity is the measure of success, and activity for its own sake is rarely considered worthwhile. Aristotle does not believe in the importance of productivity relative to one's happiness. Instead, he feels that one should engage in activity for no external end or result whatsoever. Those activities that are chosen simply because of a desire to experience the activity are often the ones that bring the most happiness. Activities that have no product create a sense of existence for the one engaging in the activity. This, however, is not a product. Instead it is merely a way of defining or referring to the activity. An example of this kind of activity is conversation. If conversation occurs in
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